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How to set a private or protected property without a setter

By Ronald van Belzen | July 7, 2018

When you have a php class with private or protected properties without setters that you want to set for testing purposes, there are two possible ways to tackle that problem.

As an example I create the following class:

class Example {

  protected $var;

  public function __construct($var) {
    $this->var  = $var;


The first approach uses reflection:

$ex = new Example('relection');

$reflectionClass = new \ReflectionClass('\Example');

$reflectionProperty = $reflectionClass->getProperty('var');

$reflectionProperty->setValue($ex, 'another value');

echo $reflectionProperty->getValue($ex);
// Outputs: another value

The second approach uses closure (PHP 5 >= 5.3.0, PHP 7) :

$ex = new Example('closure');
$changePropertyClosure = function () {
    $this->var = 'another value';
$setProperty = $changePropertyClosure->bindTo($ex, get_class($ex));

$getPropertyClosure = function () {
    return $this->var;

$getProperty = $getPropertyClosure->bindTo($ex, get_class($ex));
echo $getProperty();
// Outputs: another value